Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?

Tyler Durden's picture

The phrase "Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?" and "It’s the Economy, Stupid" have become standards of American election discourse in recent decades. And seemingly for good reason. Although it is rare to unseat an incumbent, poor economic performance seems to play a role. We are less than four months away from the US Presidential election. Financial and economic developments have caused surprise political outcomes around the world from time to time.  UBS took a look back at the first terms of the nine presidents that preceded President Obama to determine if the performance of economic variables had any predictive power in determining the odds of re-election for a second term. The news is not good, from GDP growth to real disposable income, and from unemployment to the Misery Index, it seems the bailer-out-in-chief may just have an uphill battle.


The data suggest that economic growth plays a role in a candidate’s ability to win a second term. Real GDP grew slower under George HW Bush than all the other nine presidents, followed by his son, followed by Ford (when comparing compound annual growth rates). Real disposable personal income was even more definitive, growing at the slowest pace under the three presidents who were unseated (George HW Bush, followed by Ford, followed by Carter). With one more quarter left to be reported before the election, under Obama’s first term as president, real GDP is running slower than any of his predecessors, expecting only George HW Bush, and real disposable personal income is the slowest of any of his predecessors since 1953, running at 1.5% and 0.7%, respectively.

Unemployment also rose over Ford’s and George HW Bush’s presidencies by more than any of the others, and ticked up some under Carter’s.


Inflation has been relatively tame under Obama, but the misery index has risen. However, the misery index rose in 6 of the last 9 presidencies.


Critically though - given our recent chart on Obama Odds vs the S&P - Financial markets are less definitive in predicting the presidential outcome. Of the three candidates that were unseated after their first term, only Ford saw a decline in the S&P over his tenure.


Source: UBS

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Westcoastliberal's picture

As I've been telling you guys since I don't know when, Cheney and his cabal buddies are still in charge and running the show.  How can you otherwise explain the wrong-headed executive orders, NDAA, and murder of American citizens (Murder by drone), plus cover for all the Banksers that Obama has engaged in?  It's sure NOT what you'd expect from a Dem president, is it?

shovelhead's picture


I guess that could explain why the waters aren't receding and the Earth is not healing...

I'll have to think about that.

JimBowie1958's picture

I am better off, but no thanks to Obama.

If he gets a second term I might be unemployed after May of 2014.

Spastica Rex's picture

Four years ago my family and I were middle class. We went skiing most weekends during the winter and traveled around the Pacific Northwest during the summer. Occasionally we would take a trip to San Francisco. We ate out when we felt like it.

Now, I'm unemployed, my wife teaches at a Catholic school and my children qualify for free lunch at their public schools (however, they get peanut butter sandwhiches in paper bags). We eat beans and other meatless meals most nights. I no longer drive and ride a bike. I've lost 60 lbs. I also NO LONGER WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT AS AN EDUCATION BUREAUCRAT HAVING QUIT IN DISGUST 2 YEARS AGO.

I'm better off.

Fuck BO.

q99x2's picture

Yes I'm doing better but maybe its time to say something about that trillion in student debt.

GoldandSilverTrain's picture

Obamney 2012. Either way we won't get change for the better

boiltherich's picture

The devil you know...

Don't like and did not vote for Barry O, but sure the shit will not vote for MIT!  I know the fascists will give him 90% of their vote (the other 10% of fascists will vote Obama only because they were too stupid to figure out how the ballot worked). 

But really, it is a moot point since Romney has about as much chance of winning as a snowball stands in hell.

Vendetta's picture

I'm doing a lot better, only it has taken a lot of 80 plus and 90 plus hour workweeks.  Beats being unemployed in the worst job market since I was born

DarthVaderMentor's picture

Yes, I'm better off because I now know clearly who is robbing me and I wasn't so sure 4 years ago.

knowshitsurelock's picture

Shut up you slaves, get back on your hamster wheels, run as fast as you can, work your asses off, give all your FRN's back to the banks in interest on debt, eat their shitty food and watch their propaganda TV, do as your told and die broke.

You want to make a run for the fence and get off the plantation?   They'll just take you out, no questions asked.

Monk's picture

Are you better off than you were three decades ago? Yes, and thanks to Reagan clones. Are you better off than you were four years ago? No, and for the same reason.


sessinpo's picture

One is this or that. You only have control over so much. Be like water and flow with the changes or non changes. Make the most of whatever situation is presented, after all you only have so much control.

GlomarHabu's picture



Anyone who thinks they are better off than four years agao ,by any measure they wish to use is delusional.